All posts by Antonio Abellan Fernandez

Svalbard Mission – August 2015


We’ve just arrived from an exciting fieldwork campaign in Tempelfjord (8-16 August 2015), Svalbard using our Applanix mobile system.

We’ve been interested in monitoring the Tunabreen glacier front during several days. During these days we’ve been sharing the Viking Explorer vessel facilities with well known glaciologists working at Univ.of Svalbard, Edinburgh and Dartmouth, thanks for your support guys!

Our captain Lars also did a great job!

Here I leave you some pictures of our expedition, we had an unique opportunity for doing research in such a challenging and majestic environment… !

Updating: More information on the University journal website:


Antonio, Antoine and Patrick

DSC_2801 DSC_2824 DSC_2891_ DSC_2895 DSC_2896

MsC student visit: Simone Alber

Simone Alber is a Master student from the KU Eichstätt-Ingolstadt (Germany). She will be working with us during the next three months (May, June, July 2015), some more information of her visit just below…

Hello to everyone !
I’m Simone, a master student in natural hazards from KU Eichstaett, Germany. I had the opportunity to join the Risk Analysis Group of UNIL for three months, to work on the project for my MsC thesis, concerning the acquisition and threatment of 3D point clouds. After having been warmly welcomed here, I’m looking forward to a productive and diverting time with the Risk Analysis Group in Lausanne.

New visit: Ryan Kromer from Queen’s Univ, Canada

Ryan Kromer is visiting the group from Queen’s University in Canada. He is a masters student working on monitoring rockslopes along Canada`s vast rail network. Ryan is collaborating with our group in order to develop a new methodology to detect sub-mm rock deformations using terrestrial LiDAR. The goal of this stay is to implement this method to better understand the precursor phase of rock slope failure and to move towards a rock fall early warning system.

Short course @EGU2015

Hello to everyone,

Our short course at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly entitled “Use of 3D point clouds in Geosciences: Acquisition, Processing and Applications” was very successful and we are very happy about that. The course took place on Monday 13th of April, from 17:30 to 19:30 and was followed by around 50 Early Stage Researchers (see some pictures below). We hope that you all enjoyed, both from the lectures and from the wine and icebreaker 😉

All the best from the conveners of the course: Antonio Abellan, Dario Carrea, Florian Humair, Antoine Guerin, Marc-Henri Derron and Michel Jaboyedoff


Some other informations about the short course can be found here:


Hello to everyone,

We will be presenting a Short Course at the European Geosciences Union General Assembly. The course is entitled “Use of 3D point clouds in Geosciences: Acquisition, Processing and Applications” and the pdf of the Powerpoint presentations can be downloaded here.

DATE AND PLACE: Monday 13th of April, from 17:30 to 19:30 in room B7. If you are a PhD student or an Early Stage Researcher, you are welcome to assist.


Introduction to course + speakers (AA+MJ) 5’
1. Short introduction to LiDAR sensors + photogrammetry (MHD) 15’ (20’)
2. Point cloud acquisition, pre-processing and available software (AA) 15’ (35’)
3. 3D geological mapping (FH) 15’ (50’)
——10 min. Pause —— 10’ (1h)
4. Rock structural characterisation (AG) 15’ (1h 15)
5. Monitoring: Change detection + Deformation (DC) 15’ (1h 30)
6. Perspectives and discussion (AA) 15’ (1h 45)


The PowerPoints of the course and some RAW 3D point clouds will be uploaded here some days before the beginning of the course. Some other information can be found here:

Also, we want to account with your vision, in case you’ll be interested in contributing for the last part of our course (“6. Perspectives and discussion”), you can contact us and send us your contribution.

Special Issue “Use of LiDAR and 3D point clouds in Geohazards”

We have been invited for edit a special issue at Remote Sensing journal entitled: “Use of LiDAR and 3D point clouds in Geohazards”

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 May 2015


Contributions aiming to use 3D point clouds for investigating natural phenomena (including ground deformation, landslides, floods, earthquakes, volcanoes, soil erosion, etc.) that pose serious risks to human beings or infrastructures will be much appreciated in this special issue. We aim to put together innovative contributions about novel processing techniques and original applications of three-dimensional techniques in Geohazards. Some examples include, but are not limited to:

  • Novel technologies or procedures for dynamic acquisition of 3D point clouds
  • New computational methods related with the monitoring of natural phenomena
  • Semi-automatic extraction of terrain features related with the characterization of geological hazard
  • Integration of very high quality data for improving the modeling of geohazards
  • Recent case studies: innovative analysis and interpretation of Geohazards
  • Use of three-dimensional systems in laboratory scale experiments (micro scale)
  • Improvements in regional mapping derived from high quality 3D data
  • Pioneering initiatives for the creation of 3D databases, web visualization and data sharing
  • Further related topics.

Authors are required to check and follow specific Instructions to Authors, see

Yours sincerely,

Prof. Michel Jaboyedoff, Dr. Antonio Abellan, Dr. Marc-Henri Derron (Guest Editors)

More information here:

On the impact of our research in Natural Hazards journals

Good news! The number of citations that we are receiving concerning Natural Hazards related journals is considerably increasing… For the past five years we have had the 2nd most cited paper in Natural Hazards journal (Springer)

We also obtained not bad results concerning Natural Hazards and Earth System Sciences journal (Copernicus): have a look at the 4th and 5th most cited papers in the last five years




Université européenne d’été sur les risques naturels

Une trentaine de personnes ont participé au cours qui a eu lieu du 16 au 20 Juin 2014 à Bernin (Grenoble) dans les cadre de l’Université européenne d’été sur les risques naturels: “Mouvements de terrain, crues torrentielles : quels outils pour mesurer le relief et son évolution ? (laserscan, photogrammétrie, etc.)“. Ce module d’enseignement était organisé par David Amitrano (ISTerre, Grenoble) et Michel Jaboyedoff (ISTE, Lausanne), dans le cadre du projet CTE – Interreg IV Alcotra « RiskNET ».

Les participants regroupés en équipes multi-disciplinaires (doctorants, responsables de la gestion du risque, géologues, forestiers, ingénieurs, etc) avaient pour tâche d’expérimenter et de comparer les différentes méthodes d’acquisition du relief (notamment le LiDAR terrestre et la photogrammétrie). Le ravin de l’Aiguille (massif de la Chartreuse, Isère) a servi de cas d’étude en vue de caractériser les aléas rocheux et torrentiels (acquisition des données, traitement, analyse de la faisabilité technique et économique des techniques utilisées).


UEE Grenoble

New publication in Computer and Geosciences

A new approach for semi-automatic rock mass joints recognition from 3D point clouds

Riquelme, A., Abellan, A., Tomás, R., Jaboyedoff, M (2014). A new approach for semi-automatic rock mass joints recognition from 3D point clouds. Computers & Geosciences, 68(0), pp.38–52. DOI: 10.1016/j.cageo.2014.03.014

In this paper we present a semi-authomatic methodology for the identification and analysis of flat surfaces outcropping in rocky slopes from 3D point clouds. The method is based on a three steps process: (i) to carry out a nearest neighbour points coplanarity test and to computate the normal vector; (ii) to find the principal orientation families by Kernel Density Estimation; and (iii) to identify and extract clusters of points belonging to the same discontinuity.

Different sources of information – synthetic and 3D scanned data – were employed in this study, being raw source files and obtained results freely provided aiming to a more reproducible research.

Discontinuity extraction
Example of clusters identification. (a) One colour per discontinuity set with all clusters labelled; from (b) to (f) family sets representation using one colour per cluster (Riquelme et al., 2014).

Short visit: Collaboration Univ. Barcelona and Univ. Lausanne

The PhD student Manuel Jesus Royan, from RISKNAT Group (University of Barcelona) is going to visit our institute for 10 days, from 4 to 13 November 2013. We will collaborate on the study of rockfall precursory indicators. The interest of this part of his research is on analysing how certain predisposing factors as fractures can be linked with the existence of small scale rockfalls.

We will validate this hypothesis with a long term TLS monitoring dataset at Puigcercos cliff (Catalonia, Spain). More information available here: Royan M.J., Abellán, A., Jaboyedoff, M., Vilaplana, J.M.., Calvet, J. (in press). Spatio-temporal distribution of rockfall pre-failure deformation using terrestrial LiDAR. Landslides